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Salon Just hanging around...
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Looking for opinions

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  #1  
Old 05-04-2006, 09:15 PM
Frank Lopes's Avatar
Frank Lopes Frank Lopes is offline
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Looking for opinions

When I post images on my website I look for a couple of things:
images that I'm proud to show
images that represent different kinds of work
images with interesting/captivating subjects

I came across in the Library of Congress a series of photos of Native Americans that meet that criteria. These photos were shot during the late 1800s and early 1900s and most of them are studio photos shot by some of the most famous photographers of the time.

Unfortunately, some of the originals were not in great condition when the LOC scanned them to make them available to the public.

Here is where I would like to hear your view on this subject.

A sense of dignity and serenity comes across the photographs to such degree, that it compelled me to start using some of them for my "portfolio" by retouching, restoring or colorizing them.

The problem is that the photos were made during a time when the general view of the US population for Native Americans was very different from today. At the turn of the century it was not uncommon for society to look at Native Americans as "curiosities" or "inferior" and many photos depict those views by the way the individuals were posed or dressed.

I'm afraid that by showing them as examples of my work, I'll help perpetuate views no longer accepted by today's society.

What is your opinion?
If you are a Native American, would you be offended by these photos?
Or is your view, regardless how painful these photos might me, they are part of history and accurately represent the views of society at the time?

I would love to hear the opinions of Native Americans or anyone with Native American descendancy.

Here are some examples:

http://memory.loc.gov/service/pnp/cp...0/3g08928v.jpg
http://memory.loc.gov/service/pnp/cp...0/3c06988v.jpg
http://memory.loc.gov/service/pnp/cp...0/3c01187v.jpg
http://memory.loc.gov/service/pnp/cp...0/3c15810v.jpg

Thanks

Last edited by Frank Lopes; 05-04-2006 at 09:52 PM.
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  #2  
Old 05-09-2006, 01:46 PM
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CJ Swartz CJ Swartz is offline
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Frank, I can't claim any percentage of Native American heritage, but I'm born and raised in the great American southwest. When you posted the Library of Congress link a while ago, I revisited it and found myself also drawn to the Native American images, especially those of Edward S. Curtis. I downloaded a few that I especially admired. I noticed a few images (not necessarily by Curtis) that were overly-posed and made me cringe a bit -- seemed to try to create a sense of their being "primitive" or "comically" different. Many seemed to be simply an attempt to capture their moment in time before it disappeared -- at least to my mind.

Barry Goldwater, one of Arizona's most famous citizens, created a collection of photographs of the numerous tribes located here -- his work was described as ''He photographed Native Americans with great dignity, but also with great realism.''
http://www.azcentral.com/specials/sp...oldwater4.html

The images that you posted appear to ME as sincere portraits, photographed with dignity.

I hope that you hear from Native Americans, but I would trust your judgement to choose images that maintain the subject's dignity while also demonstrating realism.
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  #3  
Old 05-09-2006, 04:02 PM
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Frank Lopes Frank Lopes is offline
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CJ Swartz, thanks for you thoughts on this matter.

As you can see, you were the only one that even attempted to address this issue. Since I have not heard from anyone else on this forum ( or other forums for that matter...) I'll just have to do my best and hopefully I'll not hurt anyone's feelings.
I'm sure when I post them, (I'll let everyone know when) I'll have feedback.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Swartz
Frank, I can't claim any percentage of Native American heritage, but I'm born and raised in the great American southwest. When you ...
I hope that you hear from Native Americans, but I would trust your judgement to choose images that maintain the subject's dignity while also demonstrating realism.
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  #4  
Old 05-09-2006, 08:50 PM
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Frank Lopes Frank Lopes is offline
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CJ,

I posted some of the images. Let me know your thoughts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Swartz
Frank, I can't claim any percentage of Native American heritage, but I'm born and raised in the great American southwest. When you
...
I hope that you hear from Native Americans, but I would trust your judgement to choose images that maintain the subject's dignity while also demonstrating realism.
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  #5  
Old 05-09-2006, 09:35 PM
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jannetie jannetie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Lopes
When I post images on my website I look for a couple of things:
images that I'm proud to show
images that represent different kinds of work
images with interesting/captivating subjects

I'm afraid that by showing them as examples of my work, I'll help perpetuate views no longer accepted by today's society.

What is your opinion?

Thanks
Hi Frank,

There probably are people who will be offended, maybe even outraged, but the past is part of our history. Hiding it serves no purpose, and the photographs are art - especially after you've retouched, restored or enhanced them. I can't claim Native American ancestry with any certainty (it's been said we descend from an Eastern Woodlands multi-great grandmother), but a friend of mine can claim Cherokee ancestry. She loved/loves those old portraits and collected them. I think she'd be very happy to see you take the time to bring them back to life.

Janice
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  #6  
Old 05-09-2006, 09:41 PM
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Frank Lopes Frank Lopes is offline
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Janice, thanks for you kind words. I would love to hear from her.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jannetie
Hi Frank,

There probably are people who will be offended, maybe even outraged, but the past is part of our history. Hiding it serves no purpose, and the photographs are art - especially after you've retouched, restored or enhanced them. I can't claim Native American ancestry with any certainty (it's been said we descend from an Eastern Woodlands multi-great grandmother), but a friend of mine can claim Cherokee ancestry. She loved/loves those old portraits and collected them. I think she'd be very happy to see you take the time to bring them back to life.

Janice
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  #7  
Old 05-10-2006, 02:57 AM
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CJ Swartz CJ Swartz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Lopes
CJ,

I posted some of the images. Let me know your thoughts.
I love the three portraits that I saw on your website -- Broken Arm, the Sioux chief (appears to me) strikes me as bold and strong, the Papago woman (from my home area) appears steadfast and has an interesting face, and the Jemez man's expression is mesmerizing -- I see a mixture of amusement, acceptance of a hard fate, and pride -- all subjective, of course, but definitely a man who does not look cowed or coerced to participate. Dressing up in their ceremonial or dress clothes rather than daily attire (if this occurred) is no more or less than we would do when we sit for a portrait.

Each, and all seem good representations of their people, and their time.
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  #8  
Old 05-13-2006, 09:10 AM
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Frank Lopes Frank Lopes is offline
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Thanks guys for your comments.
I decided to go ahead and post a couple more.
I think that will be it for now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Swartz
I love the three portraits that I saw on your website
...
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